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Wellbeing and dependency among European elderly: The role of social integration

Corinne Mette

No 2005-12, Working Papers from FEDEA

Abstract: This study aims at highlighting the importance of social integration on the well-being of dependent elderly living at home. This question is important because, as we can observe, favouring social activities is not a priority for social policies regarding dependent elderly in Europe. Now, social activities and contacts improve dependent elderly’s well-being. Therefore, as depression is one of the factors leading to a dependency situation, to attach greater importance to social measures favouring dependent elderly social integration should allow to decrease their depression rate and, consequently, should allow to decrease their demand for care too. The data used in this study stem from the European Community Household Panel (ECHP). Major results are: health perception is strongly and positively correlated with satisfaction with the main activity. The importance of the correlation decreases however a little when social integration variables are included in the model. Except for “owning a phone”, these latter variables have equally significant effects on satisfaction with the main activity. Dependent elderly who are member of a club, those who often meet their friends and relatives and those who often talk with their neighbours declare a higher satisfaction than the rest. Satisfaction is largely correlated with the country of residence. Dependent elderly from Southern countries and from Ireland declare to be less satisfied with their main activity than those from North or Central Europe. In terms of housing situation, having a comfortable dwelling leads to a higher satisfaction while living in a household composed by several persons leads to a lower satisfaction. The standard of living is linked with satisfaction: both household and personal income increase satisfaction. Lastly, dependency-related social transfers have no effect on satisfaction with the main activity.

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